Copenhagen Harbour - Altamouras Ioannis

Altamouras Ioannis (1852 - 1878)

Copenhagen Harbour, 1874

Oil on canvas, 30 x 43 cm

Antonios Benakis Bequest

Inv. Number Π.2087
On view Main Building

Following his graduation from the Athens School of Arts, Ioannis Altamouras continued his studies in Copenhagen, Denmark, encouraged by King George I of Greece. Although he died very young, when he was still 26, he managed to produce several works which can arguably be considered as true pre-Impressionist art. One of them is the “Copenhagen Harbour”, made in 1874, that is, the same year when the first Impressionist group exhibition was organised in Paris. In this painting, the Copenhagen shore, with the dimly delineated buildings, the castles, the smoking smokestacks and the great ships at anchor, is a dark horizontal line, splitting the painting surface into two. One third is occupied by the sea, where a dark rowing boat can be seen, and two thirds are taken up by a sky with fleeting clouds. Water and sky are the main elements in this painting. In fact, time is the true protagonist here, flying and changing the face of the world from one moment to the next. Using swift brush strokes in order to capture these fleeting phenomena, the painter records the shifts of colour and their iridescence on the waves. Note the great variety of colours in the clouds and see if you can identify their respective reflections on the water. Complementary couples of blue-grey, orange-ochre and violet prevail.